bengali off the beaten bath

36 Hours in the WILD WILD EAST

7/28/08  – Shanghai, China

12:30am
It’s my last night in Shanghai and I am at Club789 on the 66th floor of my hotel, Le Royal Meridien.


Like my hotel room on the 26th, it has an amazing view of the main shopping district, the Bund and the glittery Shanghai skyline. The club is packed with a mix of internationals party goers. I am flying solo tonight but there is a good salsa beat so I grab one of the many European English speaking girls and take them for a spin around. Five months of salsa lessons just paid off in 3 songs.

Everyone is having JW Black with Green Tea and ice. We exchange stories about our trip so far and when we start talking work, I tell them about the biz and show them some Ice. I hand out about 7 business cards.

2:30am
I call it a night and head down to my room.

I need to get some sleep.

9:00am
My wake up call gets me up and going… I head down to the palatial gym on the 10th floor. It has an edgeless pool and waterfall that criss crosses all over the place and a loaded cardio and weights room. The moment I walk in someone hands me a towel and bottled water. After about an hour of lifting and some power yoga

I head up, take a “rain shower”, pack up, grab my ticket to Shenzhen from concierge and head to the MagLev, the only working magnetic levitation bullet train in the world, which reaches 500 kmph. It silently shoots me to Pudong International .

Unlike the states, I am on the plane in a half hour start to finish with no racial profiling.

2:30pm
I end up sitting next to Ki-Ki, a girl who thankfully speaks English and we proceed to talk each other’s ears off for the next three hours. Chinese upbringing brings about very interesting conversations I have found which manifested this time when I ask her what she would do if she didn’t have to worry about money. Even though her English was excellent, she had no idea of such concepts… concluding.. “if not worry about money.. do something unrealistic.” Many locals have told me that making money is goal 1 and so loving your job and other “frivolous” western concerns take a far second.

5:30pm
Ki-Ki and I part ways and I grab a cab to my friend Johnny’s loft. He was my college room mate, and still close after 14 yrs, my first business partner and the Operations Manager of the China side of my biz.

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Johnny 5. Diamond Broker. Computer Scientist. Tallest Asian in Singapore. International Man of Mystery seen here… oh just flashing signs and chilling with Quincy Jones.


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Hanging at Johnny’s Feng Shui bungalow.. mountain, water, window.

Johnny trades diamonds in China and has been introducing me to his network while I am on business here. After arriving here about a week ago and then going to Beijing and China, I set up camp in his living room again. His girlfriend is wandering around in hot pants and I say Ni-Hao. She understands English but is too shy to speak it with me.. I ask her to teach me some common phrases to use at the clubs..i find out later (after mixed reactions on the dance floor) that she taught me how to say “Hello, I am hung like donkey”.. I like this girls sense of humor… After resting up for a bit we decide to party it up China style tonight.

At this point I still don’t know China Style Partying means… but will in a few short hours.

We all hope on courier bicycles ( a tiny platform on the back of a guy’s bicycle for us to sit on. ) I straddle the platform for dear life and try my best to not look freaked out though I promptly fail at this as he whizzes through speeding traffic while buses whip by 4 inches from my face. Johnny’s girlfriend sits on it sideways and crosses her legs and starts texting her friends about tonight like she’s sitting at home on a couch.

6:30pm
I enter a cavernous fusion restaurant. It is dimly lit, one wall is entirely bottles of wine about 100 feet tall with a guy on a rope who slides up and down to retrieve house orders.. the place is the size of a gym.. and completely packed as most good places are. In fact my rule of thumb for finding good eats in China is find a big line and stand in it until someone hands you something tasty.

In contrast to the elegant opulence are big screen projectors with a basketball game and 4 plasma TVs with Playstation 3’s connected which look into the kitchen. Seems you can get a fancy restaurant, sports and fragging all in one stop.

On my trip to the bathroom i find myself walking into a mirror maze then into a room of silver metal pods. Each pod is its own private bathroom coffin.. this took a little time to figure out.. 4 menus with giant photographs of everything make ordering a snap. We point and order seafood rice in a pineapple bowl, ox-tail in a coconut lemongrass sauce, lotus leaf wrapped broiled chicken, greens in shrimp sauce and baked Cantonese mussels and a Shanghai style crab the size of my head. A lot of food for two guys and a tiny Cantonese girl but its going to be a LONG night.

8pm

We head back to Johnny’s to crash for 2 hours. Chinese food can KNOCK you out. I’m told its China bacteria that Americans don’t digest so well which sometimes makes you feel completely disoriented if you try to many adventurous foods, as I always do. 100% of the time you are safer sucking snails out of a shell on the street, than ordering something like Fettuccine Alfredo. This is a FACT.

10pm
Johnny wakes me up. His girlfriend brought over her 2 friends..no English.but sometimes talking just get’s in the way

The girls are cuter than sleeping kittens.

We pile in a cab… to get to a van about 10 minutes away.

Five others meet us at the van… we then drive for a while until we reach ..a toll gate where 2 more vans meet us and we become an entourage 25 strong.

We all get back in the vans and as we drive, the pulsing city of Shenzhen fades into ramshackle village… they are just laying irrigation for sewage and there are no lampposts anywhere. Men toil in the late evening heat and the only light comes from a constant stream of passing cars. Johnny leans over and says, “this is what most of China looks like in between the cities you have been to dude…but it wont for long.” After another half hour, out of nowhere the city pops back up and it is like Vegas. Shocking the abrupt transition… seconds flat. Darkness of emptytown to Sin City.

11:30pm
We arrive at our destination. I have found the Chinese love their clubs massive and with tons of private VIP rooms complete with bathroom, waiters, bartenders etc.

This club looks like a purple lit stadium on the outside and is 4 stories. First floor is a massive club dancing floor that can hold 5000 and the other floors are private VIP rooms. Since we have 25 people joining a party in progress, we maze our way through the entire club and they take us to 1 of only 3 private “Villas” in the back which serve as massive VIP rooms. Turn’s out it’s a birthday party for a friend of a friend named Vicky. Vicky is already dancing on the platform in front of the TV with a sparkly crown and squirting champagne around.

This place is stocked with food, private bar, a big screen TV of the main club’s massive floor and a live feed to the DJ in the club. Customary chinese dice game is in full effect… echoes of SEVEN SIXXXXX stay with you long after.

Chicken cartilage are freshly broiled and delicious and no matter how nicely done up a Chinese girl is, they have no problems chowing on chicken wings at the club There about 100 people in our room with a 4:1 girl to guy ratio.…The night begins…. and WHOA

10 HOURS LATER. Damn..I know Kung Fu…

July 29th

9:30AM
We all stumble out of our darkened villa into the searing bright morning sun. Our private vans have been waiting all night apparently and we are the last ones out. This is usually when people go to sleep but not in China. Time for a trip to the spa.

10:30am
We arrive at a 7 story family spa which is conveniently right across from Johnny’s apartment.

A waterfall spews out from the 7th flood into a wading pool as we walk in and the place is marble and gold to the hilt. All our clothes gets locked in individual RFID lockers and the key ends up on a wrist bracelet. We also write a pin number on a little etch a sketch which goes in the locker as well for some odd reason. After showers we all end up in the pool size hot tub for a while followed by the sauna. Then we get robed up and head over to a massive room full of about 200 leather recliners each with a small flat screen TV attached by an arm where about 5 other bleary eyed party friends join us. If you’ve seen Rush Hour 2, it was like that place minus the bad acting and cheesy one liners. We order ice tea and watermelon and professional masseuses start working on our feet for about 20 minutes followed by our legs for 20 more. Few things feel so good after 10 hours of dancing, dice and craziness set to Chinese happy hardcore and pop.

I watch some subtitled Seinfield.. as my feet become more and more relaxed.. it was the one with the Timeless Art of Seduction. That crazy Costanza!

We then get led upstairs. The glass elevator passed right next to the waterfall. We are led into one of many long posh rooms lit in blue with about 10 massage tables. We all get situated and the masseuses proceed to work out every knot we spend the last 10 hours creating. At one one point they hop on our backs and use the tips of their toes.

This is very comfortable, especially as all the masseuses maybe weight 80 lbs. The massage continues for 2 full hours. Some of our friends have fallen asleep during and that’s fine because a lot of people just sleep at the spas here and leave the next day. At the end of this, I feel like I have slept for a month.

Now consider this…the three hours at the spa costs us each 200RMB or $26 U.S. dollars each. Try doing that in NYC for under $500.

12:30pm
The girls decide they want to go get some sleep, so Johnny and I go to get something to eat. It ends up being a place that serves Portuguese food and dim-sum. During lunch we get a call from Mr. Lee who owns high end factories in China with whom I am setting up shop for Crystal Icing. He wants to meet tonight at 9PM at a club finalize our business and has numbers for me. In China, real business is done in the clubs, not the board room.

It’s Sunday but that’s fine with me. Business is 7 days a week in the WILD WILD EAST. After filling up on fusion food we return, to the apartment and I decide I want to type up this account for the hell of it before the small details exit my mind, and so I do.. and then I go to sleep, but not for long. 🙂

Party EVERY Night

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1 Comment

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